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[811a] and large learners, who learn off whole poets by heart. Others there are who compile select summaries of all the poets, and piece together whole passages, telling us that a boy must commit these to memory and learn them off if we are to have him turn out good and wise as a result of a wide and varied range of instruction.1 Would you have me now state frankly to these poets what is wrong about their declarations and what right?

Of course.

What single statement can I make about all these people [811b] that will be adequate? This, perhaps,—in which everyone will agree with me,—that every poet has uttered much that is well, and much also that is ill; and this being so, I affirm that a wide range of learning involves danger to children.

What advice then would you give the Law-warden?

About what?

About the pattern by which he should be guided in respect of the particular subjects which he permits or forbids all the children to learn. [811c] Tell us, and without scruple.

My good Clinias, I have had, it would seem, a stroke of luck.

How so?

In the fact that I am not wholly at a loss for a pattern. For in looking back now at the discussions which we have been pursuing from dawn up to this present hour—and that, as I fancy, not without some guidance from Heaven—it appeared to me that they were framed exactly like a poem. And it was not surprising, perhaps, [811d] that there came over me a feeling of intense delight when I gazed thus on our discourses all marshalled, as it were, in close array; for of all the many discourses which I have listened to or learnt about, whether in poems or in a loose flood of speech like ours, they struck me as being not only the most adequate, but also the most suitable for the ears of the young. Nowhere, I think, could I find a better pattern than this to put before the Law-warden who is educator, that he may charge the teachers to teach the children these discourses of ours, and such as resemble [811e] and accord with these; and if it should be that in his search he should light on poems of composers, or prose-writings, or merely verbal and unwritten discourses, akin to these of ours, he must in no wise let them go, but get them written down. In the first place, he must compel the teachers themselves to learn these discourses, and to praise them, and if any of the teachers fail to approve of them, he must not employ them as colleagues; only those who agree with his praise of the discourses should he employ, and entrust to them the teaching and training of the youth.

1 Cp. Heraclitus's saying (Frag. 16):πολυμαθίη νόον οὐ διδάσκει; and the contempt shown for the versatile smatterer inPhaedrus275 A (πολυήκοοι . . . δοξόσοφοι γεγονότες ἀντὶ σοφῶι).

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